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American Muslim

Daily Democrat Woodland CA – February 8, 2007

Short film brings different message of love
Khalid Saeed: In these troubled times there
 is much misinformation,  miscommunication
 and mistrust among people of different faiths


This Valentine's Day a different message of love will be presented in the form of a documentary, "The Mosque in Paris: A Forgotten Resistance."

The 26-minute film, directed by Derri Berkani, follows a young Frenchwoman of Algerian descent who goes to the Paris Mosque in the hope of learning details about the life and death of her grandfather, a resistance fighter killed in 1944. She learns how Muslims protected Jews during World War II, offering their mosque in Paris as a refuge for anyone hoping to escape the Nazi death camps.

"In these troubled times there is much misinformation, miscommunication and mistrust among people of different faiths," stated Kahlid Saeed, president of "American Muslim Voice," an advocacy group to protect the rights of all Americans and to build bridges among different communities and people of different faiths through understanding. "It was not always like that. A civilized, honorable interaction among Muslims and Jews is centuries old. This film will show that even a few decades ago Muslims had no hostility toward them, and they even put their own lives on the line," he said.

"It is certainly an attempt by peace loving people of both these faiths to bring about the truth of historically positive relations between Jews and Muslims. We especially need to bring out the facts of the very fair and honorable treatment of Jews in Muslim land."

The director and producer is a Frenchman of Algerian descent himself. His father was a resistance fighter murdered by French collaborators, while his mother was deported to a German concentration camp. Berkani went through the experience of hiding with the Jewish children in the mosque after the death of his father. "I would so much like to be the link between the two communities -- I, who by an accident of history, crossed the path of Jewish children who were victims of the Shoah," he said.

Saeed believes this documentary can universally help people understand truth. "Too much negativity is being said and written about Muslims and Islam these days about their intolerance of other people and religions. This documentary brings out the historical facts even from the recent past about the humanity of the people who will put their lives on the line for the sake of humanity against oppression and cruelty," said Saeed.

This film has been screened all around the U.S. in schools, colleges, churches and at different forums. Dr. Annette Herskovits will present the film in Davis, tell her own story as a child who survived the Holocaust in France, and discuss the role of Muslims against the Nazi's. "Herskovits reminds us of both the terror of genocidal war as well as the courage and resilience of survivors and rescuers," stated Mas'ood Caje of "Muslim Peace Fellowship." "We so desperately need to lift up those wise voices like hers that point us to our common humanity."

Similarly, Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, stated that, "Her life's work is to bring forth connection and deconstruct difference. Essentially there are no differences between people aside from the ones we create out of fear and greed."

The screening will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14 at Davis United Methodist Church, 1620 Anderson Road. The program is presented by Israel Peace Alternatives and cosponsored by the Church and Society Committee of Davis United Methodist Church, the Muslim Mosque and Islamic Center of Woodland, American Muslim Voice and The Celebration of Abraham.